I must admit to have not seen the League Cup game against Manchester City last night, and by all accounts, we gave a really good account of ourselves. Having taken a sneak peak at highlights, as well as engaging fans who had watched the game there was a consistent trend that came out of conversation – Pardew gave it a go last night. While he did rest players like Cabaye, Ben Arfa and Remy, our set up was a seemingly positive one. Shola played an integral part in holding the ball up and bringing others into play, Haidara looked like he will be knocking on the door for a left-back spot when he fully recovers from his injury and while we are still suffering from a severe like of clinical ability up front, we were playing a vastly superior squad with options from the bench that we could only dream about.
The League Cup, along with the FA Cup, has been deemed off limits by the powers that be. We don’t want silverware according to John Irving, one of Ashley’s lieutenants, but last night seemed to paint a different picture. Pardew will have been all too aware of the fan backlash following these comments from the club, and in light of recent fan protests against Ashley it would appear that Pardew wanted to at least give the fans something to cheer about by putting in a decent shift last night.
While that is all well and good, what Pardew must also be all too aware of, is how threadbare in quality our squad is. Given how our next two games involve hosting Chelsea on Saturday and travelling to Spurs a week later, we could be in for a rather tough time of it if some of our key players don’t get back to 100% fitness again. Losing Haidara to injury was yet another blow as his presence could have kept both Santon and Dummett on their toes, and with the continued absence of Coloccini and Taylor, we are still looking light at the back. The decision to rest Remy was both bitter sweet, as we needed to keep him fresh for Saturday, but he is the only striker at the club who looks capable of scoring. All of the above could quite easily be remedied had Ashley done what any sensible owner with foresight and ambition would have done and invest in a few more bodies who would not only provide strength in depth, but also depth in quality as well.
While Pardew is not known for acts of rebellion against the owner, I for one am willing to contend that by playing a strong side, and bringing on some of our key players off the bench, he wanted to show that he was willing to give it a go, which was a token gesture given how we still lost but appreciated nonetheless. Whether Ashley is as happy with this show of ‘ambition’ remains to be seen, and negative results against Chelsea and Tottenham could put Pardew under serious pressure. With winnable home games against Norwich and West Brom to follow, question marks will surely be resting over Pardew’s head if he doesn’t get maximum points there.
Interesting times at Newcastle United. Not for the right reasons of course. Our next 4 games are crucial. If we can manage to get something from Chelsea and Spurs, then the pressure will not be quite so intense, but defeats to these two will make our games against the other mid-table teams vital, especially home games.
Many fans seem to think that if we are in the bottom half in the run up to Christmas, then Pardew has to go. I personally believe that Pardew is Ashley’s greatest asset, as he provides a buffer of bull**** between Ashley and the fans. Will Ashley dispense of his puppet if it becomes increasingly popular to do so? What do you think?